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Remembering Molly Murphy’s House of Fine Repute

by Guest Blogger, Steve Lackmeyer, Reporter/Columnist: The Daily Oklahoman
Web sites: OKCCentral and http://www.okchistory.com/


For my first 11 years of existence, I lived in Hicksville, New York, a hometown I shared with Billy Joel. The rest of my life I’ve been a proud Oklahoma City resident.

So are my Gen X memories those of a kid whose first neighborhood resembled the one in the show “The Wonder Years”? Or are my memories more in line with Jennifer?  That’s my first question as I wade into this Generation X discussion. The test, actually, is an easy one: where do my fondest memories reside? And yes, they reside right here.

Never Gave Up On OKC

Like Jennifer, I never gave up on Oklahoma City even when it was very tempted to do so. My family moved back to New York in 1989, but I stayed. During a brief summer back in New York that year, I couldn’t relate to it at all. I missed browsing art I couldn’t afford at the Festival of the Arts. I missed catching performances by Kenny Loggins, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Chicago and the Beach Boys at the Zoo Amphitheater (is it just my faulty memory or was there a time when the Beach Boys came every year?). I missed Sammy’s Pizza (and still do), Braum’s and Johnnie’s. I missed special evenings at Papa Dio’s.

Molly Murphy’s House of Fine Repute

And I really missed Molly Murphy’s House of Fine Repute. Molly Murphy’s was one of those places that made Oklahoma City special and I’m bewildered as to why we can’t have it back. The crazy wait staff in their costumes, the building that followed no rules, the dancing, the tribute to “safe” debauchery – the entire operation served as a still family-friendly bit of rebellion against the idea that you couldn’t have fun in Oklahoma City. 

 

Molly Murphys House Waiters Waitress

molly murphy restaurant oklahoma tulsa

molly murphys house of fine repute

Molly Murph’s House of Fine Repute, Oklahoma City – 1980s

Molly Murphys House of Fine Repute Wait Staff

Generation X – The Most Responsible Generation

As I’ve gotten older, I look back and realize that despite some bad early Gen X buzz (I worked four jobs in college and was never a slacker), we’re the most responsible and level-headed generation out there. Let’s face it – we’re sandwiched between very spoiled Baby Boomers used to having everything be about them and bewildered Millennials with a similar sense of self-grandeur who are about to discover they’re not guaranteed an easy street to wealth and happiness.

Am I rambling here? Stay with me – I’m actually paid to do this writing thing and I’m about to amaze at least myself by using Molly Murphy’s as a metaphor for the delicate balancing act being performed by our generation.

We miss Molly Murphy’s because it is truly a part of our generational DNA. A trip down Meridian Avenue was akin to showing we could have fun, get a bit wild, but still maintain our dignity. It was OK to dance to around a Jaguar converted into a salad bar and we knew Groucho’s insults weren’t really going to hurt that much. Molly Murphy’s represented our own small attempt at redefining who we were. We wanted to be more cosmopolitan, more sophisticated, and heck yeah, more fun.

And we knew we’d have to work at it to get things done. We did volunteer stints and shifted our “big city weekends” from West End to Bricktown as we saw opportunities to make our dreams come true.

We’re responsible. It’s said, I think correctly, that in response to the selfish and dysfunctional examples set by our Baby Boom parents that we’re much more focused on balancing work, family and community service.

Nobody Could Ever Question a Baby Boomer

We’re still responsibly rebellious. The Baby Boomers always had that notion that they were right no matter what, that their parents were idiots, and later that we were slackers for not following them in lockstep. Nobody could ever question a Baby Boomer – they just knew everything, and everything had to be about them. And forgive me for saying so, despite all that Woodstock propaganda, they had no problem selling out and leading us to the financial chaos we face today.

We’re not so eager to sell out. We’re seeking to have less clutter in our lives, we care what happens in our hometown, and we’re eager to challenge conventional wisdom even if it involves some discomfort. We’re more likely to care about what’s happening in Capitol Hill, Paseo, the Plaza District and Deep Deuce even if we happen to live at NW 164 and Pennsylvania.

Gen X Taking Their Rightful Place: Will Boomers Let Go?

And so it is that we are slowly but steadily trying to take our rightful place leading our community. For so long Baby Boomers were so self-absorbed that they were quite happy letting their parents – “The Greatest Generation” – continue to lead long past their expiration date. We saw this right here in Oklahoma City, where outdated ideas were implemented without pause when it came to razing downtown and starting the 1980s with a rebuilding plan drawn up when LBJ was still president.

The Baby Boomers eventually took over – a bit late – and because they were so far behind they were inspired to accomplish great things in 1990s. For Oklahoma City this meant MAPS, a revamped zoo, a rebuilt airport, and a modernized City Hall.

And Generation X has applauded these accomplishments, rightfully so. But with Generation X now ready to assume leadership, will the Baby Boomers let go? We know they won’t change their ways now.

So let them have their homogenized TGIFs and Chili’s – we’re ready to redefine our city, make our own plans a reality, and yes, dance around that crazy salad bar as “Oh What a Night …” plays from our Ipods.

Do you remember Molly Murphy’s House of Fine Repute?

Steve Lackmeyer’s focus is reporting on downtown development in Oklahoma City. He is also an author, having written “Bricktown,” “OKC Second Time Around” and an upcoming book about the Skirvin Hotel. The last two were co-authored by long time friend and former co-worker Jack Money. Lackmeyer is married; a father of two boys, 4 and 7, and the owner of a crazy dog.

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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14 Comments

  1. le @ thirdontheright

    good reading – love it when I learn something 🙂 le

  2. junkdrawer67

    Great post!

    If Boomers are going to step aside they won’t do so easily, if willingly. Just look at what it took for Hilary to give up the race for the Dem nomination for President. Even after losing her gigantic ego had to be appeased…repeatedly. I would not be surprised if you didn’t see this sort of pyscho-drama play out on different scales throughout the culture, especially in the corporate world.

    And you really hit about the Millennials — they are about to taste some sour grapes as they graduate into a down economy, similar to GenX’s experience. I wonder, though. How will Millennials handle their circumstance, especially in comparison to GenX? Better? Worse? What?

    Of course, at this point it is still to early to tell. But based on a few things I’ve read and heard via radio reports, Millennials seem optimistic, which makes me roll my eyes and want to say, you just wait. But at the same time I want to tell them, keep your head there. Don’t give in to cynicism and angst. Because you can get stuck there, and it can be a difficult hole to climb out of. Instead, take the time and be creative, think differently — it’s the time to take chances, wild chances, try any and every idea that occurs to you. You never know, that may lead you someplace better than a cubeland job that frankly after a few years can seem more like a necessary burden then a fulfilling work experience.

  3. jenX

    @B2DESIGN – Thank you! I appreciate your visit and very much appreciate the comment on Steve’s guest post. I love hosting guest posts as long as my blog community embraces them. Many more great posts coming everyone’s way this week and next! Thanks, again.

    Regarding Lisa – I’ve grown more sensitive to the Gen Jones stance, b/c honestly, it’s so Gen X. hahahaha!

  4. jenX

    @ANONYMOUS – My assessment of Lisa is – a shrewd blogger who has mastered the ability to drive traffic to her site via running sticks along fences. Maybe I should try this tactic. hahaha!

  5. B2design

    Great post, Steve. And, I’m really enjoying your blog, Jen.

    I remember a few very special times that we went to Molly Murphy’s. What an incredible place!!! Just thinking about it puts a smile on my face.

    And, I do agree that it’s time for Gen X to step up. I don’t know (nor do I really care) about Lisa and her Gen Jones thing. Apparently she doesn’t comprehend that this blog isn’t about her. Boomer narcissism at its finest. 🙂

    Keep up the great work.

  6. Anonymous

    WHO IN “BLANK” IS LISA PAUL?

  7. Anonymous

    Steve, I agree with everything you have to say, but I think the silents stayed on too long because they knew they couldn’t trust their kids the boomers, and probably for good reason. Boomers work everyone below them like 2 dollar mules. That way the over educated people below them are too tired to realize that the person in charge is taking two hour lunches and leaving early too make up for getting in late. XOXO

  8. jenX

    @STEVE – There were some comments on Facebook, too – where I posted the link under networked blogs.

  9. jenX

    @NAOMI – You would have loved this place! Thanks for commenting on Steve’s great post.

    @TR – Wanna go to Chili’s? LOL! I never thought about it before, but the Heather/Keith Paul restaurants are all very Gen X, no? And, of course, they’re both Gen X.

    @LISA – Why don’t you write an educational guest post about Gen Jones? 500 words or less.

    @GRADUAL DAZZLE – Thanks for stopping by. Steve’s post took me way back – to 1988! It doesn’t really seem that long ago, huh?

  10. Anonymous

    For those who miss Molly Murphys, there are some great tribute websites and I have some old commercials posted at http://www.okchistory.com.
    – Steve

  11. Gradual Dazzle

    I used to LOVE Molly Murphy’s when I was a girl in southern OKC back in the 1970s!!! I had totally forgotten about it until I just read this post. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reminding me of it. That place was absolutely THE BEST.

  12. T.R.

    Born in 1961 – I didn’t really understand the Gen X/Boomer paradigm until both groups went after 1961’s own President Obama to claim as their own. Somewhere I read that 1961 was definitively Gen X and therefore Obama – and therefore me. I’ve been trying to figure out just exactly what that means. And now I get it thanks to this timely and fantastic guest post.

    I finished my senior year in high school at 10:00am so that I could squeeze in an extra job next to the one I already had in order to pay for college. My older friends thought I was crazy – my younger friends were wanting applications and recommendations for similar work. Now I get the picture and understand the paradigm shift. And yes we loved Molly Murphy’s – once we ran out of birthdays to celebrate there – we came up with endless other excuses. And to this day nothing makes me wince more than a suggestion to dine at Fridays or Chili’s. This post speaks volumes to me.

  13. Naomi Munn

    I loved this post! I wish we had a similar venue here in mid-Michigan. I just HATE the conventional chains packed with cranky, aging you-know-whats. We actually drive a half-hour north or west to GET AWAY from the mundane. Cheers!

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